History, Legacy & Showmanship
Monday, 12 June 2017 02:01

Get to the Chopper: Remembering “Predator” on its 30th Anniversary

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“It’s an amazing accomplishment for a director’s first studio film.” – Action movie authority Eric Lichtenfeld

The Digital Bits and History, Legacy & Showmanship are pleased to present this retrospective commemorating the 30th anniversary of the release of Predator, John McTiernan’s sci-fi/action/horror film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers and Kevin Peter Hall and featuring Saturn Award-winning music, Golden Reel Award-winning sound effects and Academy Award-nominated visual effects. [Read on here...]

Predator, one of the most popular action movies of the 1980s, opened in theaters 30 years ago this week, and for the occasion The Bits features a compilation of statistics, trivia and box-office data that places the movie’s performance in context; passages from vintage film reviews; a reference/historical listing of the film’s premium-format 70mm presentations; and, finally, an interview segment with action movie and John McTiernan authority Eric Lichtenfeld.




  • 1 = Box-office rank among films in the Predator franchise (adjusted for inflation)
  • 1 = Number of Academy Award nominations
  • 1 = Number of weeks North America’s top-grossing movie (week #1)
  • 1 = Rank among top-earning movies during opening weekend
  • 1 = Rank on list of top-earning films of 20th Century Fox’s 1987 slate
  • 3 = Number of 70mm prints
  • 4 = Box-office rank among films directed by John McTiernan (adjusted for inflation)
  • 5 = Number of sequels, spinoffs and reboots
  • 5 = Rank among top-earning movies of 1987 (summer)
  • 7 = Number of months between theatrical release and home video release
  • 8 = Rank among top-earning R-rated films of 1987
  • 9 = Box-office rank among films starring Arnold Schwarzenegger (adjusted for inflation)
  • 12 = Rank among top-earning movies of 1987 (calendar year)
  • 1,623 = Number of opening-week engagements
  • $39.98 = Suggested retail price of initial home video release (LaserDisc)
  • $79.98 = Suggested retail price of initial home video release (VHS and Beta)
  • $7,413 = Opening-weekend per-screen average
  • $12.1 million = Opening-weekend box-office gross
  • $15.0 million = Production cost
  • $25.9 million = Opening-weekend box-office gross (adjusted for inflation)
  • $32.3 million = Production cost (adjusted for inflation)
  • $38.2 million = Box-office rental (domestic)
  • $38.5 million = Box-office gross (international)
  • $59.7 million = Box-office gross (domestic)
  • $82.2 million = Box-office rental (domestic, adjusted for inflation)
  • $82.9 million = Box-office gross (international, adjusted for inflation)
  • $98.3 million = Box-office gross (worldwide)
  • $128.6 million = Box-office gross (domestic, adjusted for inflation)
  • $211.5 million = Box-office gross (worldwide, adjusted for inflation)





“Powerful! A top action film.” — David Elliott, The San Diego Union

“A knock-your-socks-off thriller!” — Scott Cain, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Predator begins like Rambo and ends like Alien, and in today’s Hollywood, that’s creativity.” — Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

Predator is an ominous high-tech Stone-Age mixture — ominous because the production is high tech and the script, and its values and mentality, are Stone Age. It’s in the bare-bones action-adventure mode that producers Joel Silver and Lawrence Gordon used in The Warriors and The Driver, chic action-fables where nothing impedes the streamlined flow — neither logic, originality nor a single naturalistic moment. Sometimes the form works, but in Predator, they’ve hit nada. There’s a difference between Walter Hill’s minimalism and vacuity — which is what we get from Jim and John Thomas’ screenplay. It’s arguably one of the emptiest, feeblest, most derivative scripts ever made as a major studio movie. There’s no need to do a Mad magazine parody of this; it’s already on the screen.” — Michael Wilmington, Los Angeles Times

“As Mr. Schwarzenegger demonstrated in The Terminator, he is much better at playing such creatures than at wrangling with them, though in this film he does the latter. The last part of the film concentrates on man-to-monster battles through the jungle. Care to guess who wins?” — Janet Maslin, The New York Times

“There are some really obnoxious things about Predator, but the bottom line is that it is a fast-paced, skillfully structured, exciting, extremely violent and bloody piece of totally mindless entertainment.” — Harper Barnes, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“It’s what you’d expect from director John McTiernan, who made his debut last year with a quirky, imaginative horror film called Nomads, though it isn’t all you might hope for. McTiernan never seems in complete control of the wildly disparate elements he has assembled, and the movie doesn’t settle into one groove long enough to establish a firm hold on the audience. It’s a promise more than an accomplishment.” — Dave Kehr, Chicago Tribune

“When Schwarzenegger first established himself in Conan the Barbarian, he earned a secure place in the Bad Dialogue Hall of Fame by explaining that he liked to kill his enemies for the joy of listening to ‘ze lamentation of zeir vimen.’ He also proved himself able to ignore the lamentations of the critics, and his self-assurance has improved with his command of English. And his study of the screen personality of Clint Eastwood has obviously been assiduous.” — Desmond Ryan, Philadelphia Inquirer

“[Predator is a] movie for those who find it entertaining to watch virtually the entire cast of a movie eliminated, one by one. In this ineffective, bloody spoof of machismo, Arnold Schwarzenegger is the head of an elite military unit that finds itself scurrying for survival in hostile jungle terrain while being stalked by a super-efficient alien hunter. It’s Platoon and Aliens fused with a Miller beer commercial.” — Elvis Mitchell, Detroit Free Press

“John McTiernan’s pedestrian direction emphasizes pyrotechnics, blood, gore and a singular determination to avoid fleshing out his characters. Schwarzenegger’s men are allowed one distinguishing characteristic each: one guy chews tobacco; another is an Indian into mysticism; another wears glasses and tells bad jokes and another guy is as bald as a billiard ball. They all die, just like the movie.” — Roxanne T. Mueller, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer

“Putting Arnold Schwarzenegger in the middle of a movie that combines Rambo and Aliens sounds like a great idea. But unfortunately, Predator, which combines horror film effects and war movie action, is not as good as the films it apes.” — James Verniere, The Boston Herald

Rambo Meets Alien in the Jungle might have been a better title for this predictable and very silly action film. When the creature finally takes its uncamouflaged form, it’s just another hulking, slimy monster with, you guessed it, green blood. Thirteen-year-old boys might find him scary, but otherwise the predator is a totally unreal, unconvincing and unworthy opponent…. Even Schwarzenegger is below par in this barbequed turkey, Predator is for the birds.” — Marylynn Uricchio, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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